What It Is Really Like Behind the Scenes on a Cooking Competition

What It Is Really Like Behind the Scenes on a Cooking Competition
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What It Is Really Like Behind the Scenes on a Cooking Competition

Read on for more about what it's like behind the scenes of a cooking show.

The Biggest Surprise

"That it is real," reveals Cat. She says that Iron Chef doesn't film different takes. "We are on for one hour straight. We don't stop. We are really cooking at such a high intensity. If you think it is intense at home, it is 100 times more intense when you are doing it and it is the real deal."

"We have great chefs who come in and really want to do it and there are chefs who don't want to do it because they don't want to go on live television and have a chance of losing because people do take it seriously. It is really head to head competition."

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The Competitors

"Every competition has really been intense. Everybody comes in there really ready to go and they bring their A-game. Everybody is super serious, super nervous and everybody wants to win," says Cat, who believes that Iron Chef requires the same competitive spirit as an athletic competition.

"You have to be in shape to do it. You have to be able to think on your feet. You have to bring all of your years of experience and, like I said, you only have one hour and it is the fastest hour of your life."

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Setting the Scene

"At the beginning, you definitely do see the cameras but after five minutes, when they start the clock, you forget the cameras are even there until you run into somebody," Cat reveals. She says that contestants do sometimes bump into the camera crew, which can disrupt the chef's concentration. The contestants have to push through, even when mistakes mess up their process. Sometimes ovens aren't hot enough or turned on at all! Sometimes the ice cream doesn't come out right or a dish gets burned. "These things happen all the time and you have to be able to adjust and carry on," Cat advises.

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Favorite Moments

"I always say the most fun I have is when I win. When I win Iron Chef, there is no better feeling," Cat reveals. "Some days you come away feeling victorious and you feel like you cooked your best and that is a great feeling. [You think,] in one hour, I cooked enough food for 25 dishes. I actually cooked food that I could be proud of."

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Watching Herself on TV

"I don't watch a lot of my shows," Cat admits. "It is a little awkward watching yourself on camera and hearing your voice. Some people watch themselves religiously and pick apart every single move they make. I don't feel the need to do that. I'm not super critical of myself in that sense. In the beginning of my career, I did watch myself quite a bit. I forced myself to watch because I really did want to perfect what I was doing."

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Family and Friends

"My parents watch. My dad was my biggest fan. He never missed an Iron Chef or anything I was on for that matter," says Cat. Friends watch too. I think it is really cool to hear it from your family or from your friends because they get so passionate about it, especially when they are on your side."

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The Popularity of Cooking Shows

"I think people love food and people love sports. Cooking shows bring those two genres together," says Cat. "Now, Iron Chef is syndicated in many parts of the world: in Asia, Latin America and Australia. You get all walks of life. My fan base reaches from small children to guys, gals, moms, dads and grandparents. I really think those are our favorite pastimes: eating and watching sports."

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The Future of Cooking Shows

"For six years they stayed fairly the same and then the whole cooking competition phenomenon exploded onto the scene. It hasn't stopped and it doesn't look like it is slowing down," says Cat. She believes the genre will transition towards dual competitions: where the main competitors duke it out while their mentors also compete against each other.

"Myself, Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Symon and Tyler Florence are mentors on this new show, America's Best Cook, where we mentor home cooks and they go against each other. What ends up happening is the mentors also compete against each other like on The Voice. We are trying to polish them and get them into competitive mode. I think it is going to be hot these next couple years: home cooks competing against each other."

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From her days on Iron Chef America, Cat Cora is the perfect source for illuminating what goes on behind the scenes on cooking competitions.

There might be some editing involved, but Cat insists that Iron Chef is as intense as it looks. She also has some pretty interesting predictions for the future of competitive cooking shows.

Check out the slideshow above for everything you ever wanted to know about cooking competitions!

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